Disney’s Art of Animation Resort: A Cheapskate Princess Guide

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Updated for 2017!

As the newest resort on Walt Disney World property, completed in 2012, the Art of Animation Resort will give you and the kids the feeling of being a character in some of your favorite Disney movies. Whether you are going under the sea with Nemo and Friends, swimming with The Little Mermaid, chilling out in Radiator Springs with Lightening McQueen and Mater, or enjoying the essence of the African savanna with Simba and his friends Timon and Pumba, Art of Animation has something for everyone of all ages.

This value resort provides the amenities and perks as other value resorts on property but can comfortablly accommodate larger families.

Compared to the other Disney value resorts, The Little Mermaid Standard Rooms are perfect for any budget. And while the Family Suites are higher priced than those found at All-Star Music Resort, your kids will definitely enjoy the adventurous feel of each differently themed area.

This list of pros and cons for Disney’s Art of Animation Resort will help you decide if this should be your next choice for your magical Disney World vacation!

Read: A Cheapskate Prince$$ Guide: Top 10 Freebies at Disney World

7996404249_d7aeb790c2_zThe Inovabed in the Lion King Suite, one of 1,120 Family Suites available at Art of Animation

Art of Animation Resort Pros:

Standard Rooms: 

The Little Mermaid Standard Rooms can accommodate up to four guests, plus one child under the age of three in a crib.

These rooms have two full beds.

Family Suites

For larger families, the Family Suites comfortably accommodate families of six.

While all rooms have a mini refrigerator, the Family Suites, also have a microwave and a kitchenette.

Family suites also have two bathrooms.

All Family Suites have three separate sleeping areas. The master bedroom has one queen, sleeper sofa with double bed, and the Inovabed that converts from a table to a double bed.

Pools:

There are three amazing heated pools; The Big Blue Pool (the largest at the resort and has an underwater soundtrack in the Finding Nemo Courtyard), Flippin’ Fins Pool (Little Mermaid courtyard), Cozy Cone Pool (Cars Courtyard).

The main pool and kids splash area have zero entry, which is perfect for little ones.

The Schoolyard is a water play area for the little ones; Squirt’s Righteous Reef Playground and The Boneyard Playground are all play areas for your little animators.

 

Read: Prisma: The FREE App You Need for Your Disney Vacation Photos

Dining

Landscape of Flavors Food Court includes five distinctive food shops – The Soup, Salad and Sandwich Shop, The World Flavors Shop, The Pizza Shop, The Burger Shop and The Market.

The Drop Off is a poolside snack bar and delivery service.

Freebies included with your Reservation

Registered guests receive free resort and theme park parking.

Registered guests receive access to Extra Magic Hours in the parks when offered.

Transportation

Airport transportation is free using Disney’s Magical Express.

Free Disney Theme Park transportation is offered via service bus every 15-20 minutes.

There is a dedicated Disney transportation bus for Art of Animation guests only, as opposed to All-Star Value Resorts which all share the same bus line.

Fun Lobby

Animation Hall Lobby houses Pixel Play Arcade as well as, an interactive, hands-on area where a Disney artist teaches guests how to animate favorite characters.

Read: Disney World’s Memory Maker: A Cheapskate Princess Guide

7320062486_45965f6fb0_zFinding Nemo Courtyard features The Big Blue Pool, The Schoolyard, Squirt’s Righteous Playground

 

Art of Animation Resort Cons:

The Little Mermaid Standard Rooms are the farthest away from Animation Hall, like all standard rooms, so at the end of your day in the parks, it can be a long walk.

Finding Nemo suites are now considered a “preferred location” which means they are more per night than Cars or The Lion King Family Suites.

There are only a few Standard Rooms available with a King Bed.

While this is value resort, the price of the themed suites are more than the Family Suites at Disney’s All-Star Music Resort.

Because this resort is a great option for families, especially larger families, it can definitely be noisier during high peak travel times.

If you are a family of five, the themed Family Suites at Art of Animation Resort are not the least expensive option on property. If are trying to stick to a tight budget, certain room which accommodate five at the moderate resorts can be more cost effective.

Read: Epcot’s International Food and Wine Festival : A Cheapskate Princess Guide

102 (2)The Little Mermaid wing featuring 864 Standard Rooms

These pros and cons will help you decide if Disney’s Art of Animation Resort is the best fit for your family. My opinion is this is a great resort to try for your next Disney vacation. Whether you stay in The Little Mermaid Standard Rooms or any of the Finding Nemo, Cars or The Lion King suites, the pros outweigh the cons with this property.

With the right planning, you can avoid some of the cons of staying here.

7996401717_0aa4d48f04_zSleeper sofa in The Lion King Suite which converts to a double bed

108 (2) (1)Queen Bed in The Lion King Master Bedroom

AOA1The Little Mermaid Flippin’ Fins Pool

AOA2 The Inovabed as a table for four in the Finding Nemo Family Suite

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The Inovabed as a table for four in the Finding Nemo Family Suite
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The 4.3 cu. ft. refrigerator and microwave in the Finding Nemo Family Suite Kitchenette

AOA5 The Master Bath in the Finding Nemo Family Suite

Art-of-Animation-Resort-040Squirt’s Righteous Reef Playground in the Finding Nemo Courtyard

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Read: Disney Springs’ Boathouse Restaurant: Tips for Dining Under $20

To see more of our Cheapskating Guides, use this link.

Amanda Major Cheapskate Princess

.

Disney’s Cheapskate Princess

.

Now let our vacation planner help you plan your trip, totally for FREE!

Earn $20 Rewards for Vacation Referrals!

Use this link for a free no obligation vacation quote from Mike Ellis, our Disney Vacation Planner with Pixie Vacations.

Call Mike at 919-606-6725 or e-mail him at mike@pixievacations.com.

Amanda Major CheapskatePrincess.comAmanda Major is the creator of cheapskateprincess.com. She remembers her first visit to Magic Kingdom like it was yesterday, because she had a ham sandwich tucked in her shorts pocket. The whole family snuck in their lunch; you can’t make that kinda stuff up. 40 years worth of trips to Orlando later, she is still trying to save money on vacations.

Amanda is a Disney Vacation Club Member and Annual Pass holder. Her amazing husband, band director Carl Major, plus three teen children and two dogs keep her busy. Amanda teaches Leadership to high school seniors in the almost-coastal town of Foley, Alabama. Read about her cheapskating local vacations with this link. When she’s not writing, she’s reading, walking somewhere, or paddling a kayak. Life is indeed a blast. 

We hope we can help save you some money too. Use this link for a free no obligation vacation quote from our Travel Consultant with Pixie Vacations, Mike Ellis. You can also e-mail him at mike@pixievacations.com.

Attention Shoppers: Ride to Orlando’s Premium Outlets for FREE!

Orlando Premium Outlet Mall shuttle

Updated for 2017!

Orlando’s Premium Outlet malls offer a free shuttle service from certain area hotels. Simon property group has paired with Mears Transportation for the service connecting hotels to the malls. So many of you cheapskates bargain shoppers will now have the opportunity to do some shopping without having to pay for a cab ride there.

Busses can carry up to 50 passengers and include free wireless Internet. We sure love free, so how exactly does this work?

Operation Times

Hotel pick up runs between 9:30 a.m. and 12:45 p.m., while drop off runs between 3:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.

Participating Malls

Each of the Premium Outlet malls will have a shuttle bus.

Orlando Vineland Premium Outlets

Orlando International Premium Outlets

How to Reserve a Seat

To reserve a seat, call 407-254-0470 or use this link: mallservice.mearstransportation.com.

The form looks like this:

Orlando Premium Outlets complimentary shuttle reservations

When you fill out the form, you will be notified of the drop off point, which looks like this:

Premium Outlet Malls shuttle to Disney resorts

Which Hotels are Participating?

The drop down menu listed the following hotels as of January 6, 2017.

orlandos-premium-outlet-malls-offer-a-free-shuttle-service orlandos-premium-outlet-malls-offer-free-shuttle-service

For those of you staying on Disney property, it looks like the only participating resorts are the Swan and Dolphin, although many of the Disney Springs Resort Area Hotels including B Resort & Spa, Best Western, Doubletree Suites, Hilton, and Holiday Inn will have pick up and drop off availability.

Shoppers still can use the I-Ride Trolley shuttle service that basically runs from the Orlando International Premium Outlet Mall the length of I-Drive to Orlando Vineland Premium Outlets. The I-Ride Trolley will cost $2 for a single trip or $5 for the day.

Orlando Premium Outlets

Orlando Premium Outlets

So, who is ready to go shopping?!

Thanks for stopping by, and we’ll see you at the Disney Character Outlet, looking for bargains.

 

To see more of our Cheapskating Guides, use this link.

Amanda Major Cheapskate Princess

.

Disney’s Cheapskate Princess

.

Now let our vacation planner help you plan your trip, totally for FREE!

Earn $20 Rewards for Vacation Referrals!

Use this link for a free no obligation vacation quote from Mike Ellis, our Disney Vacation Planner with Pixie Vacations.

Call Mike at 919-606-6725 or e-mail him at mike@pixievacations.com.

Amanda Major CheapskatePrincess.comAmanda Major is the creator of cheapskateprincess.com. She remembers her first visit to Magic Kingdom like it was yesterday, because she had a ham sandwich tucked in her shorts pocket. The whole family snuck in their lunch; you can’t make that kinda stuff up. 40 years worth of trips to Orlando later, she is still trying to save money on vacations.

Amanda is a Disney Vacation Club Member and Annual Pass holder. Her amazing husband, band director Carl Major, plus three teen children and two dogs keep her busy. Amanda teaches Leadership to high school seniors in the almost-coastal town of Foley, Alabama. Read about her cheapskating local vacations with this link. When she’s not writing, she’s reading, walking somewhere, or paddling a kayak. Life is indeed a blast. 

We hope we can help save you some money too. Use this link for a free no obligation vacation quote from our Travel Consultant with Pixie Vacations, Mike Ellis. You can also e-mail him at mike@pixievacations.com.

When You Take a Fitbit To Disney

lose weight on a Disney vacation
Updated for 2017!
One of the best parts about a Disney vacation is enjoying the food and snacks, but sometimes it’s tough to abandon established workout regimens and daily food goals you’ve been working on maintaining for month, sometimes years. Can you continue healthy eating and exercising on vacation and still relax and have fun? Like aren’t exercise and vacation opposite concepts?! Will you come home from trying to stay in good shape on your trip with regrets you’ve missed out on fun and Disney FOOD?!
America is not a nation in great shape. Niddk.nih.gov reports that more than one-third of adults are considered to be obese. About one-third of children and adolescents ages 6 to 19 are considered to be overweight or obese. More than 1 in 6 children and adolescents ages 6 to 19 are considered to be obese. Livestrong.com cites Boston Medical Center information indicating that approximately 45 million Americans diet each year and spend $33 billion on weight-loss products in their efforts to love weight and look better.
If you are one of the millions on a diet and exercise plan this year, your time spent on a vacation is a struggle to return home with more souvenirs than extra pounds. There are unlimited diet plans and weight loss products out there, but the one I took to Disney World on our last trip was a Fitbit.

[Read more…]

Cheapskate Princess Caribbean Beach Resort Guide

caribbean beach resort guide

Walt Disney World’s Caribbean Beach Resort is a large, with over 200 acres surrounding a 45 acre lake called Barefoot Bay. There is a 1.3 mile path around the resort and lake which connects all the villages that is great for jogging or walking. The lake provides sandy beaches for sunbathing with hammocks for relaxing, though swimming is not permitted in the lake.

The Custom House at the main entrance is where guests check-in and acts as the arrival and departure points for guests using Disney’s Magical Express airport service. Bell Services is located here too. Check in time is 3 p.m.; check out time is 11 a.m. [Read more…]

Disney World 4 Le$$: Pony Rides Under $10

Tri-Circle D ranch pony ride tips

Updated for 2017!

Looking for activities for the younger crowd on a Disney World vacation that won’t cost a fortune? Head over to The Cabins at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort for some true horse play!

What You Get

You get a pony ride on the petite ponies at Tri-Circle-D Ranch! Riders must be at least two years of age, under 80 pounds, no taller than 48 inches, and able to hang on to the pony by themselves. A parent or guardian must lead the pony at all times.

The Cost

$8.

Bring your wallet, because Tri-Circle-D accepts cash payments only.

Read: Disney World $.51 Souvenir Pennies

cheap stuff for kids at Disney World

Tri-Circle D ranch pony ride

Tri-Circle D ranch

Time and Location

Pony rides are offered daily from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. near Pioneer Hall at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground.

Need Reservations?

No reservations are necessary.

Read – Disney for Le$$: Charmed in the Park Jewelry

cheap activities at Disney resorts

Tri Circle D pony rides for kids

Tri-Circle D ranch pony rides for kids

Tri-Circle D ranch pony ride prices

How Do You Get There?

You can park on resort property, ride a boat over from Wilderness Lodge, or walk a paved trail through the woods from Wilderness Lodge to the ranch. We found walking from the Lodge to be a great outdoor activity in the winter months when it’s not so hot, which I wouldn’t recommend in the summer or warmer months.

There are lots of horses at the ranch, many of which perform at the parks and resorts and are not available for riding. Children should know that the Tri-Circle-D is not like a petting zoo. While some are available to ride and view for free, feeding and petting horses and ponies is not encouraged.

But they sure can be fun to watch.

After the kid’s pony ride, (keep in mind reservations – ADRs- are a great idea for this meal) head over to Wilderness Lodge for breakfast at one of our favorite places on Disney property:

Read – Disney World Meals Under $20: Whispering Canyon Cafe Breakfast

Tri-Circle D ranch pony rides

Tri-Circle D ranch pony rides cost

Pony ride at Walt Disney World

Call (407) 824-2832 for information about Tri-Circle-D Ranch’s other offerings, including horseback trail rides, wagon rides and private carriage rides. You can also use this link for more information. 

For details on another cheapskate activity at Tri-Circle-D Ranch, use this link:

Read – Doing Di$ney 4 Le$$: Wagon Rides Under $10

Enjoy reading Cheapskate Princess articles? Here is the best way to make sure you keep up with all the cheapskating Disney news. Over on the right side of this page, the right side of any Cheapskate Princess article, and you will find this box.

email

Simply type your e-mail address in the blue box, and you will then receive a confirmation e-mail. Once you confirm your e-mail subscription, several times a week, Cheapskate Princess articles will appear in your e-mail in-box, just like Disney magic, and it’s totally free to sign up.

You don’t have to be a cheapskate to know that…is a real bargain.

 

Thanks for stopping by, and we’ll see you and the kids headed over toward the ponies, resting your feet if you just walked over from Wilderness Lodge.

To see more of our Cheapskating Guides, use this link.

Amanda Major Cheapskate Princess

.

Disney’s Cheapskate Princess

.

Now let our vacation planner help you plan your trip, totally for FREE!

Earn $20 Rewards for Vacation Referrals!

Use this link for a free no obligation vacation quote from Mike Ellis, our Disney Vacation Planner with Pixie Vacations.

Call Mike at 919-606-6725 or e-mail him at mike@pixievacations.com.

Amanda Major CheapskatePrincess.comAmanda Major is the creator of cheapskateprincess.com. She remembers her first visit to Magic Kingdom like it was yesterday, because she had a ham sandwich tucked in her shorts pocket. The whole family snuck in their lunch; you can’t make that kinda stuff up. 40 years worth of trips to Orlando later, she is still trying to save money on vacations.

Amanda is a Disney Vacation Club Member and Annual Pass holder. Her amazing husband, band director Carl Major, plus three teen children and two dogs keep her busy. Amanda teaches Leadership to high school seniors in the almost-coastal town of Foley, Alabama. Read about her cheapskating local vacations with this link. When she’s not writing, she’s reading, walking somewhere, or paddling a kayak. Life is indeed a blast. 

We hope we can help save you some money too. Use this link for a free no obligation vacation quote from our Travel Consultant with Pixie Vacations, Mike Ellis. You can also e-mail him at mike@pixievacations.com.

The Pros & Cons of Staying at Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort

Caribbean Beach Pros and Cons

Situated near Epcot and Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando lies the lush tropical-themed Caribbean Beach Resort.  This moderate resort provides the amenities and comforts one would expect from a Disney resort, with a very relaxing island vibe.  If you are looking for a quiet, tropical vacation, this could be the perfect resort for you. It’s a big property at over 200 acres, which has both good and bad points.

Compared to Disney’s value resorts, the moderate resorts typically provide larger rooms, queen beds – though there are exceptions, more on-site dining options, and upgraded pools with slides. Compared to Disney’s Deluxe resorts, moderates typically provide smaller rooms, not as-lush accommodations, fewer on-site dining options and fewer park transportation options. Caribbean Beach Resort provides a great middle ground for first time and seasoned visitors alike.

Let this Pros and Cons of Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort list help you decide if this is the vacation property for you and your family!

Disney World Resort Hopping

Caribbean Beach Resort of the 2112 rooms, 350 are specially Pirate Themed Rooms

Caribbean Beach Resort Pros:

  • For larger families, rooms can comfortably accommodate 5 adults
  • Other than the Pirate themed rooms, all rooms with 2 beds have 2 queen sized beds
  • Designed like a fortress, complete with water canons, this has one of the best themed resort pools
  • Main pool and kids splash area have zero entry, which is perfect for little ones
  • Never hard to get a chair at the pools, since there are 7 pools to choose from
  • Larger resort size and lower density buildings help keep resort quiet
  • Food Court is adjacent to main pool; very convenient for refill mugs and quick meals and snacks
  • Lush green landscape throughout the resort
  • Newly refurbished rooms feel new and modern yet comfortable and fresh
  • Registered guests receive free resort and theme park parking
  • Registered guests receive access to Extra Magic Hours in the parks when offered
  • Free airport transportation via Disney’s Magical Express
  • Free Disney Theme Park transportation via bus every 15-20 minutes
  • Resort shuttle available, running the interior of all bus stops to Port Royale area
  • Islands of the Caribbean Pirate Cruise offered for the little ones (for an extra fee)

Caribbean Beach Resort Cons:

  • No elevators for those with mobility issues
  • Transportation can take longer than other Walt Disney World moderate resorts as there are two more resort-wide bus stops
  • Larger resort means it can be a long walk from your room to Old Port Royale or to a bus stop
  • Pirate Themed rooms beds are same sized as value resorts and not a fit for those who need queen sized beds
  • No balconies outside of rooms
  • Only location for refill on resort mugs is at the Old Port Royale area, which is not convenient for all rooms

Differences in the Disney World Resort Levels

pros of Disney's Carrbbean Beach Resort

Disney World Caribbean Resort

Disney moderate vacation resorts

Knowing the pros and the cons can certainly help you decide if this is good resort for your family. My assessment is this is most definitely a resort to try for your next Disney vacation.  I think the good qualities outweigh the bad with this property. With the right planning, you can avoid some of the cons with staying here.

To see more of our Cheapskating Guides, use this link.

Amanda Major Cheapskate Princess

.

Disney’s Cheapskate Princess

.

Now let our vacation planner help you plan your trip, totally for FREE!

Earn $20 Rewards for Vacation Referrals!

Use this link for a free no obligation vacation quote from Mike Ellis, our Disney Vacation Planner with Pixie Vacations.

Call Mike at 919-606-6725 or e-mail him at mike@pixievacations.com.

Amanda Major CheapskatePrincess.comAmanda Major is the creator of cheapskateprincess.com. She remembers her first visit to Magic Kingdom like it was yesterday, because she had a ham sandwich tucked in her shorts pocket. The whole family snuck in their lunch; you can’t make that kinda stuff up. 40 years worth of trips to Orlando later, she is still trying to save money on vacations.

Amanda is a Disney Vacation Club Member and Annual Pass holder. Her amazing husband, band director Carl Major, plus three teen children and two dogs keep her busy. Amanda teaches Leadership to high school seniors in the almost-coastal town of Foley, Alabama. Read about her cheapskating local vacations with this link. When she’s not writing, she’s reading, walking somewhere, or paddling a kayak. Life is indeed a blast. 

We hope we can help save you some money too. Use this link for a free no obligation vacation quote from our Travel Consultant with Pixie Vacations, Mike Ellis. You can also e-mail him at mike@pixievacations.com.

Walt Disney World Must Eat? Chocolate Covered Caramel Apples

disney-world-must-dos-food

Updated for 2017!

There are certainly a lot of snack options at Walt Disney World. Food makes up such an important, and expensive, part of vacations, that sometimes choosing what to munch on can be overwhelming. How do you know you picked the best snack for your money?

Never fear, a Cheapskate Princess is here! [Read more…]

20 Cheapskate Tips for Accommodations and Tickets at Disney World

Save money on Diney tickets and lodging

Updated for 2017!

Disney World seems to get more expensive every year; if you’ve been following recent changes on ticket increases and up-charges for parking and extra park hours, then you already know that. There are a few tricks you can use to save some money on accommodations and tickets, keeping in mind that you get what you pay for, and if it sound too good to be true, it probably is.

If you ever weighed your options for staying on-property versus off-property to save enough ca$hola to stay on vacation for an extra day, you just might be a Cheapskate Princess!

Read – Cheapskate Guides: Mucho Tips for Planing a Disney World Vacation

Cheapskate Guide to saving money at Disney

1. If staying on property is a must-do, then stay in the Value Resorts to save money. If you plan to spend your waking hours at the parks, all you probably need is a bed and a shower anyway, so no need to pay lot more for it. The difference between Value Resorts and the next level, Moderate Resorts, can be about $80 and up per night. Described as affordable comfort and convenience for families on the go starting at (2017) $93, the Value Resorts are Pop Century, All-Stars (Movies, Sports, Music,) and Art of Animation.

2. If you want to spend more time in your room, around your resort, or see more of Orlando, stay in a Moderate level resort rather than splurge on Deluxe accommodations. The Deluxe Resorts start in price about $140 more than Moderate level, and $200 more than the Value resorts, and that’s just a starting point. Combining beautiful themes and value starting at $166 a night, the Moderates Resorts are Coronado Springs, Caribbean Beach, Port Orleans (French Quarter and Riverside) and Cabins at Fort Wilderness. Use this link for more information:

value-vs-moderate-resort-cost-comparison

Read – Differences in the Disney World Resort Levels: A Cheapskate Guide

stay at a Disney Moderate resort to save money from Deluxe

3. Regardless of the resort level you choose, stay during low or fall season to save money. Value Season is the least expensive and least crowded time of the year, followed by Fall Season, Regular Season, Summer Season, Peak Season and Holiday Season. Value season has dates in January through early February. Fall season has certain dates in August, September, October, November and December. Anytime there is a holiday where school is out, there will be crowds at Disney World and room rates will be more expensive.

4. Staying on property gives you the perk of free parking. There is no cost to park at your resort with a reservation, and you won’t have to pay to park if you drive your car to the parks.  The parking cost is built into your room cost, and therefore you’ll avoid paying an extra $20 a day.  

5. Staying on property gives you access to Extra Magic Hours, which means you get more time in the theme parks without paying any additional money. That’s built into your room cost, if you choose not to go to the parks when Extra Magic Hours are offered. EMHs allow you to enter the parks early before general visitors arrive and stay after those visitors leave on certain designated days of the week. Crowds will be lighter during Extra Magic Hours than during regular operating hours. 

Read – Why Disney’s Extra Magic Hours Are Totally Worth a Cheapskate’s Money!

why Extra Magic Hours are worth staying on Disney property

6. Why pay full price? Stay on property when Disney offers discounts. Special offers and deals are announced throughout the year in one form or another. You can save money on room rates and vacation packages, and unless they end this special, free dining will hopefully be available for limited dates in the fall. You just have to be willing to travel during certain times of year. Use this link to the direct Disney special offers page. Travel Agents will be glad to let you know when deals and discounts are released. Use this link for a free no obligation vacation quote from our Disney Vacation Planners with Destinations in Florida travel. If you book a vacation and deals are announced afterward, our TAs will apply these discounts to your trip. 

7. Flying in? Stay at a Disney resort, and the Magical Express will take you to and from the Orlando International Hotel for free. This complimentary motorcoach transportation also comes with free luggage delivery. Purchasing vacation packages are not required to take advantage of this free service. When you make your Disney resort reservation, if you do not select Disney’s Magical Express and include flight information, just contact your booking agent for your Disney Resort hotel reservation number, or get your reservation online on the My Reservations page in My Disney Experience.

If you arrive between 5 a.m. and 10 p.m., it can take up to three hours for your luggage to be delivered to your resort room, so be sure to pack what you need in bags that stay with you. 

Read – 5 Steps for Planning a Disney Vacation

Save money at Walt Disney World

8. Book a hotel room using expedia.com. You may find a lower rate than booking directly through Disney, and they offer free cancellation on your room up to several days out from your trip. 

9. Have AAA? They offer room discounts for Disney hotels. AAA requires annual membership fees. Classic AAA Memberships are $49, AAA Plus is $79, and AAA Premier is $101. All of these memberships require a $20 one-time admission fee. Use this link to AAA. 

10. If you have ever served in the armed forces, you can get military discounts. Disney offers room and tickets discounts for our military. Shades of Green is the only Armed Forces Recreation Center located in the continental United States. To be eligible, you or a family member must be a current or retired member of the Reserve and National Guard, Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard and Cadets of Armed Forces Academies. Use this link to shadesofgreen.org for eligibility information.

Read: How to Beat the Disney Rash!

disney-military-discounts-2017

Other Lodging Ideas

11. Have a camper or a tent? The Campsites at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort are less expensive than some off-property resort or hotel stays, but Disney camping gives you all the Disney property privileges, like a pool, outdoor movies, and character meet and greets. You can cook your own meals to save money, and there are toilettes, showers, and laundry facilities throughout the campground.

Prices for 2017:

  • Tent or pop-up campsites start at $55.00
  • Full hook-up campsites start at $71.00
  • Preferred campsites start at $85.00
  • Premium campsites start at $90.00 

Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort also offers cabins for rent, but starting at $309 (2017) a night, these cabins are classified as Moderate Resorts and expensive, triple the cost of a Premium campsite and usually more than double the cost of a Value Resort. 

12. Have a big family? The least expensive Disney Resort rooms allow only four people, so if you stay on property, you’ll need two rooms or a more expensive room that allows for five or more. Many people with larger families or traveling with groups rent houses off property. There are many house rental companies that serve the Orlando area, including All-Star Vacation Homes and IPG Florida Vacation Homes. Another great option our family has used with good results is Vacation Rentals by Owners (VRBO.com)

13. If you ever wanted to stay at a Disney Vacation Club Resort but have not joined the DVC yourself, you can save money renting DVC points using businesses like David’s Vacation Club Rentals and DVC Rental Store. You can save up to 40% off retail prices, but remember retail prices for Vacation Club accommodation are really high. The following locations are available for use with DVC points:

  • Animal Kingdom Villas
  • Bay Lake Tower  
  • Beach Club Villas
  • BoardWalk Villas  
  • Grand Floridian Villas
  • Old Key West Resort
  • Polynesian Villas and Bungalows
  • Saratoga Springs Resort
  • Wilderness Lodge Village

Read – Disney World Vacation Planning: Non-Holiday Dates to Avoid

rent DVC points to save money at Disney World

Cheapskate Guides for buying Disney tickets

14. Let’s start with the fact that you do not need to have tickets every day of your vacation. I know lots of people who want to be seated on a roller coaster every waking moment of their trip, but this can be tough traveling with younger children or older adults who may tire easily. We high recommend a free day, or even two, to explore the resort properties, swim, shop, and relax. Use this link for ideas for a free day: Disney World Tips for Kids: “Free Day” Fun Activities.

15. Head to the beach! Orlando is only about an hour or two from several free beaches, including Cocoa Beach, New Smyrna Beach, Clearwater Beach, Daytona Beach, and Canaveral National Seashore. Swim, build a sand castle, and take a walk along the shore.  

16. You will pay less per day for your theme park tickets when you purchase more days/tickets, and it’s a significant amount. Adult Disney World park tickets for four days cost $305.00, at a per day cost of $81.25. Adult tickets for seven days cost $350.00, at a per day cost of $52.86. 

save money on Disney World tickets

So the more days you play at the parks, the less you will pay per day.

17. Be wary of fantastic ticket offers. A website called orlandowego.com offers $35 one-day Disney tickets, which normally cost three times that amount. In small print at the bottom of the page is a tag line, “THIS ADVERTISING MATERIAL IS BEING USED FOR THE PURPOSE OF SOLICITING SALES OF VACATION OWNERSHIP PLANS.” Companies are not giving you discount tickets for no reason. Ticket prices too good to be true probably are, and you could find yourself using park time for sitting through a time share presentation.

18. I always recommend buying tickets straight from Disney, because I don’t like to take any chances. But if you want to go for a slight ticket discount, use reliable sources like MouseSavers or Undercover Tourist. You do not want to be standing at the gate dealing with problems from tickets you purchased from a less reputable seller just to save a few dollars. This would be a terrible way to start off a vacation. 

Read – Disney World Meals Under $20: Whispering Canyon Cafe Breakfast

cheaper to Drive to Disney

19. Other theme parks in or near Orlando offer less expensive ticket prices than Disney tickets. You might not have traveled to Orlando just to visit Disney parks, but that’s certainly an option if you are on a budget. Let’s compare 2017 one-day ticket prices for Orlando theme parks before taxes. 

  • Magic Kingdom $97 Value ($102 Regular, $114 Peak)*
  • SeaWorld $79
  • Busch Gardens $79 (about an hour away from Orlando)

Universal Studios Orlando has undergone a huge increase in traffic since the addition of the Harry Potter sections of their parks. Universal offers a one-park ticket for $105. There is no tiered pricing at Universal, so this ticket would be better than a Peak Season ticket at Disney, but just barely. Saving money wouldn’t be a reason to visit Universal Studios in Orlando, but visiting for the fabulous theme park experience would be.

*To learn more about ticket seasons, use this link: Disney Parks Seasonal Tiered Ticket Pricing: A Cheapskate Princess Guide

20. To save money on Disney tickets, don’t purchase the Park Hopper Option. You will spend valuable time moving from one park to another, and you will pay more per day for the option of going to different parks on the same day. A one-day ticket to Magic Kingdom during Regular Season before tax is $110. Adding the Park Hopper Option takes the price total to $160. If you purchase four-day tickets, your price before taxes is $325.00. Adding the Park Hopper Option takes the price total to $394. You’ll save $69 when you skip park hopping, which can add up if you are traveling with a group. 

Read: Christmas Holidays at the Disney World Resorts…Where to Find the FREE Stuff!

Did we miss a tip that saves you money? Leave us a comment so we can add it to our list. If you’re going to be a cheapskate, you might as well be a Cheapskate Princess!

Thanks for stopping by, and we’ll see you rolling quarters and eating sandwiches for lunch, saving up for your Disney vacation…

 

To see more of our Cheapskating Guides, use this link.

Amanda Major Cheapskate Princess

.

Disney’s Cheapskate Princess

.

Now let our vacation planner help you plan your trip, totally for FREE!

Earn $20 Rewards for Vacation Referrals!

Use this link for a free no obligation vacation quote from Mike Ellis, our Disney Vacation Planner with Pixie Vacations.

Call Mike at 919-606-6725 or e-mail him at mike@pixievacations.com.

Amanda Major CheapskatePrincess.comAmanda Major is the creator of cheapskateprincess.com. She remembers her first visit to Magic Kingdom like it was yesterday, because she had a ham sandwich tucked in her shorts pocket. The whole family snuck in their lunch; you can’t make that kinda stuff up. 40 years worth of trips to Orlando later, she is still trying to save money on vacations.

Amanda is a Disney Vacation Club Member and Annual Pass holder. Her amazing husband, band director Carl Major, plus three teen children and two dogs keep her busy. Amanda teaches Leadership to high school seniors in the almost-coastal town of Foley, Alabama. Read about her cheapskating local vacations with this link. When she’s not writing, she’s reading, walking somewhere, or paddling a kayak. Life is indeed a blast. 

We hope we can help save you some money too. Use this link for a free no obligation vacation quote from our Travel Consultant with Pixie Vacations, Mike Ellis. You can also e-mail him at mike@pixievacations.com.

Disney World Vacation Planning: Non-Holiday Dates to Avoid

plan a better Disney World vacation

Heading off to Disney World these days requires a lot more planning than it took years ago. In the olden days, or perhaps the Golden Days, you could throw some bags in the car and drive to Orlando for a week or a simple weekend without doing very much in advance. In this new era of technology, you’ll need hotel reservations, Advance Dining Reservations, and ride reservations using FastPass+, if you don’t want to pay a fortune, get shut out of restaurants or stand in long lines. Disney World planning has become complicated.

Many vacation planners are well aware that travel during holidays can seriously affect the quality of your trip, since many families choose major holidays to vacation in Orlando. I’m talking about summer holidays when school is out, Christmas holidays, Spring Break, etc. It’s natural to expect these times of year to be busy. But when you start to look at a calendar to schedule your trip, you should be aware that there are other events and actually sports competitions that can have an impact on crowds and general traffic at WDW. 

Over 10 Ways Kids Can Earn Money for a Disney Vacation

avoid these dates at Walt Disney World

Many of the following competitions and events that take place on Disney property may not have that much of an impact on the amounts of people entering the theme parks. Sometimes athletes and chaperones travel to Orlando for competitions, but just covering that expense alone does not always allow for the purchase of park tickets. What they can affect your trip in particularly are the crowd levels at your resort, since in an effort to save money, many student groups stay at the Value Resorts like the All-Stars and Pop Century Resort. Cheering, chanting and people everywhere can take a toll on your sanity during what was intended to be a time to relax. If you typically choose the Value Resorts, these may be dates you want to avoid. 

While Mardi Gras is not an actual event that takes place at WDW, many school children get off for several days or the entire week in southern states like Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. Our coastal Alabama school system shuts down for Monday and Tuesday of Mardi Gras week every year. We live four hours away from New Orleans, but that is close enough for local cities to have their own Mardi Gras parades. 

Teens from Argentina and Brazil frequently take school breaks at Disney World in large groups. There are intense discussions on the Internet about the chanting, singing and clapping that occur within these groups. While I am all about having a good time with other students on a trip, many people have complained these large 100+ teen groups (did I mention loud noise and chanting?) created tranquility issues for their time in the theme parks. The word chanting is like the opposite of the word relaxing. 

Understanding Disney Park Closure Phases: A Cheapskate Princess Guide

IMG_7323

Around the 1st/2nd week of November, New Jersey schools have a teachers’ convention when many families head south to Disney, a time known as “Jersey Week.” This is like the Spring Break of winter for New Jersey schools, and park attendance will definitely increase. 

During “Pop Warner Week” in December, Disney hosts the The Pop Warner Super Bowl and National Cheer & Dance Championships. Again to save money, football players, cheerleaders, coaches and family members will pack out the Value Resorts, as well as some of the Moderate Resorts. If you can imagine almost 70 football teams and over 400 cheerleading squads there for competition, you will know to expect noise and crowds, especially on busses, and higher there park crowd levels at night when competitions are completed. 

Will it be the ruination of a great vacation if you schedule a trip during these events? Absolutely not, but it’s just a good idea to be aware of what is going on at the parks and resorts so you can make an informed decision. Everybody handles crowds and kids differently.

Understanding Disney World Bus Transportation: A Cheapskate Princess Guide

when is Jersey Week at Disney World

Use this simple layout so you can see how these dates might affect your trip. These were dates for 2016. 

January

College Cheerleading & Dance Team National Championships – January 15-17, 2016

National Dance Team Championship – January 30-31, 2016

South American Tour Groups

February

National High School Cheerleading Championship – February 6-7, 2016

Twirlmania – February 12-15, 2016

March

Contest of Champions Nationals – March 4-6, 2016

International All Star Cheerleading Championship – March 12-13, 2016

Mardi Gras Holidays – February 9 is Mardi Gras day in 2016

April

All Star Cheerleading & Dance Worlds – April 23-25, 2016

July

South American Tour Groups

November

Jersey Week – November 10-11 in 2016

December

Pop Warner Super Bowl – December 5-9, 2016

National Cheer & Dance Championships – December 5-9, 2016

Cheapskate Princess Extravagance: Platinum Disney Jewelry

best time to go to Disney World

To see more of our Cheapskating Guides, use this link.

Amanda Major Cheapskate Princess

.

Disney’s Cheapskate Princess

.

Now let our vacation planner help you plan your trip, totally for FREE!

Earn $20 Rewards for Vacation Referrals!

Use this link for a free no obligation vacation quote from Mike Ellis, our Disney Vacation Planner with Pixie Vacations.

Call Mike at 919-606-6725 or e-mail him at mike@pixievacations.com.

Amanda Major CheapskatePrincess.comAmanda Major is the creator of cheapskateprincess.com. She remembers her first visit to Magic Kingdom like it was yesterday, because she had a ham sandwich tucked in her shorts pocket. The whole family snuck in their lunch; you can’t make that kinda stuff up. 40 years worth of trips to Orlando later, she is still trying to save money on vacations.

Amanda is a Disney Vacation Club Member and Annual Pass holder. Her amazing husband, band director Carl Major, plus three teen children and two dogs keep her busy. Amanda teaches Leadership to high school seniors in the almost-coastal town of Foley, Alabama. Read about her cheapskating local vacations with this link. When she’s not writing, she’s reading, walking somewhere, or paddling a kayak. Life is indeed a blast. 

We hope we can help save you some money too. Use this link for a free no obligation vacation quote from our Travel Consultant with Pixie Vacations, Mike Ellis. You can also e-mail him at mike@pixievacations.com.

Understanding Disney World Bus Transportation: A Cheapskate Princess Guide

How to get around Disney World by bus

(Updated September 2016) One huge reason visitors choose to stay in Disney World Resort hotels is because of the free transportation around the property. If you fly into Orlando, Magical Express will drop you and your luggage off at your hotel. If you drive yourself, you can park your car and let Disney do the driving from this point on.

Wikipedia, that source of information most high school English teachers detest, provides a WDW bus 411. “Disney Transport operates a fleet of TMC RTS, Nova Bus LFS, Gillig Low Floor, and New Flyer XD60 Xcelsior bus models. They have approximately 350 buses in their fleet with a further 50 Gillig buses on order. Disney has been expanding their fleet with new Gillig buses, and has recently introduced new articulated New Flyer XD60 Xcelsior buses as a pilot project to increase capacity on certain routes.”

So let’s take a look at navigating your way around The World using the Disney busses. They’re free, after all!

*Almost 130 FREE Walt Disney World Resort Activities!

Why use the Disney bus system?

It can save you time. The Disney resort is a huge piece of property with miles and miles of roadways, some of which can be confusing even with huge signs along the way. If you get turned around while driving yourself, this can waste precious park time. Why use your time parking your car and walking to a tram/the gate when you can have a bus drop you off at the front gate, (for free!) Time = money.

It can save you money. Why use your own gas? Why put the wear and tear on your vehicle? 

Almost areas throughout the Walt Disney World Resort are accessible using a bus, even if some of the routes will need a transfer to another bus. A bus can take you to the following areas:

  • Disney Springs
  • Disney Theme Parks
  • Disney Water Parks
  • Resort hotels

*“Best of the Best” Walt Disney World Freebies*

Disney World bus guide for beginners

When do the busses operate?

The Parks: Bus transportation is available each day 45 minutes before the parks open until one hour after the parks close for transportation from your resort. Theme park hours can vary from day-to-day, and the hours are often different from park to park. Call or visit the front desk if you have questions about specific times buses will be available. To get to Disney Springs from a park, bus transportation runs from 4pm to 11pm (or until 2 hours after the park close, whichever is earlier). There is no service from Disney Springs to the parks. 

Disney Springs to a resort hotel: Bus transportation is available each day from resort hotels to Disney Springs until 1:00 a.m. Between 1:00 a.m. to 2:00 a.m., only outbound service from Disney Springs to Resort hotels is available.

Let’s get this bus trip started…

There are convenient and well-marked pickup points throughout Walt Disney World Resort. There are a plethora of Cast Members standing by to instruct you to the bus stop if you cannot locate it on your own.

Bus transportation service at the Walt Disney World Resort operates every 15 to 30 minutes, but remember this is not always an exact timetable. Busses break down, busses fill up during peak travel seasons, and loading can take longer depending on visitors and their needs.

Values & Moderate Resorts ——> Theme Parks

Value and Moderate resorts provide buses to WDW theme parks.

Deluxe Resorts ——> Theme Parks

Magic Kingdom resorts (Polynesian Village, Grand Floridian, Bay Lake, Contemporary Resort, and Wilderness Lodge) provide buses to the other three parks. You can walk to Magic Kingdom from the Contemporary Resort and Bay Lake Tower, in addition to traveling by monorail or ferry to Magic Kingdom.

To get to EPCOT, you can take a monorail to the Ticket & Transportation Center (TTC) and take the Epcot monorail straight to the park

From the Boardwalk Resorts, take a bus to Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom. Walking or taking a boat are options to get to EPCOT and Hollywood Studios from here.

*Save Money on Food at Walt Disney World: A Cheapskate Princess Guide*

Disney World vacation tips

Resort ——> Resort

Visitors travel from resort to resort for several reasons. You can “resort hop,” which means yo take a look around resorts where you do not have reservations. You are not allowed to swim at resorts where you are not staying, but looking around is allowable and even encouraged. 

You can grab a bite to eat at different resorts, many of which have fabulous dining entertainment and Character Meals. 

Using a bus to get from your resort to another resort, catch a bus to the closest theme park. Transfer to a different resort bus upon your arrival, or walk/monorail/boat yourself from there, depending on your location.

You can also take a bus to Disney Springs and catch a different resort bus from there.

Resort ——> Fort Wilderness Campground

If you are visiting Fort Wilderness Campground for Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue dinner show, or to visit the Circle D Ranch, catch a bus from your resort to the nearest theme park and ride a bus to the campground.
 
You could also take a bus to the Magic Kingdom and take a boat from there, or from Magic Kingdom, walk to the Contemporary Resort and take a bus.

Theme Parks ——> Disney Springs

As of September 2016, Disney now offers one way bus transportation from each of the four parks to Disney Springs starting at 4pm running through 11pm (or until 2 hours after park close, which ever time is earlier). If you wish to head to Disney Springs prior to 4pm, you will need to travel from a Disney resort. You will need to plan ahead for how you will get back to the Theme Park as bus service is not available. 

Disney Springs ——> Theme Parks

This is where many first time visitors, and those of us that just plain forgot, struggle with bus transportation. Disney does NOT offer bus transportation from Disney Springs directly to any theme park.  You can be pretty sure this is because people were parking for free and riding in on the bus.   If you want to get to a Theme Park from Disney Springs, ride a bus to any resort and then take a bus to the theme park from there. 

Resort ——> Water Parks

Bus service begins from Disney resorts 30 mins prior to water park opening, and the buses run until the water parks guests have departed.

For Typhoon Lagoon, there are afternoon instructions that are very important. 

  • Leaving a resort before two p.m., take the Disney Springs/Typhoon Lagoon bus 
  • Leaving a resort after two p.m., take a bus or monorail to Epcot and transfer to a Typhoon Lagoon bus.

*FREE Disney World Snack and Drink Samples: A Cheapskate Princess Guide*

Disney World resort bus system

Resort ——> Fantasia Gardens Mini Golf

There is no direct bus to Fantasia Mini Golf.

From any theme park or Disney Springs, take a bus to the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort. Fantasia Gardens Mini Golf is located very close to either of these two resorts, making it easily within walking distance.

To get back home, ride a bus to any theme park or Disney Springs and catch a bus back to your resort from there. 

Resort ——> Winter Summerland Golf

There is no direct bus to Winter Summerland Golf.

While Blizzard Beach is open, take a bus to Blizzard Beach and simply walk mere steps over to Winter Summerland Golf. 

Things get complicated when Blizzard Beach is closed, because bus service stops at Blizzard Beach an hour after closing.  I called Disney directly on 10-15-15 and was told there is a bus that cycles between Blizzard Beach, Epcot, and Coronado Springs, which is located just down the street from Blizzard Beach. Double check this with your resort front desk, but if you take a bus from your resort to Epcot and transfer to a Blizzard Beach bus, you should be dropped off at Winter Summerland Golf on this cycle, and bus service should cease here around 11 p.m. 

*Differences in the Disney World Resort Levels: A Cheapskate Guide*

Disney World transportation

Resort ——> Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports

From All-Star Sports, All-Star Music and All-Star Movies, Pop Century Resort, and Caribbean Beach Resorts, there is direct bus service to and from the Sports Complex every 30 minutes.

The operating hours on the route to ESPN Wide World of Sports will vary day-to-day and are based on events at the Sports Complex.

If you are not staying at one of these resorts, take a bus to any theme park and catch a bus to one of the resorts listed, and then take a bus over to the Sports Complex. I’m just guessing here, but this sounds like it could take a long time to accomplish this, like over an hour or two with waiting and bus transferring If you are in a big hurry, I would phone a cab.  

*Disney World Resort Hopping: A Cheapskate Princess Guide*

Several Bus Riding Tips

  1. Do not take luggage or alcohol on a resort bus.
  2. All strollers must be folded and stowed out of the aisle, and you need to have this completed before you start to board the bus.
  3. Medical strollers for guests with disabilities are treated as wheelchairs.
  4. If you are traveling when the busses are not operating, taxi cabs are also available, obviously for a fee.

Disney bus

We asked our Cheapskate Princess fans on Facebook what they thought about using Disney bus transportation. 

Galonii,Bring a coat no matter what time of year you’re visiting Disney because the buses will be 50 degrees and you’re going to freeze your butt off on the way back to the hotel!”

C.j.I love love love the bus system! Except when coming back late from Disney Springs, and then it’s awful. The drivers are exceptionally wonderful. Back he was six, our Jackzilla even received a collector token that said ‘I was caught being good’ and that made his day.

Dianna, “I can go anywhere on Disney property! Very convenient. The busses are very cold, and it’s good to be patient. Sometimes you gotta be aggressive and show the bus driver you want to get on the bus. They will leave you because they will think you’re just standing there.

Anita, “Disney Transportation is the best way to get around on your vacation. You don’t have to worry about parking, traffic or Mapquest. Best of all, it’s free.”

CarissaWe avoid them as much as possible. There is nothing magical about the buses! Except, I will say, sometimes you meet the nicest people and can have the best conversations. For us, the extra cost is worth the convenience of a resort with boat or monorail transportation. We’re staying at the Contemporary in November. WALKING to/from Magic Kingdom is heaven to me – especially after Wishes.”

Disney Food Tip #2: Adults Save Money Ordering This Meal!

Cindy, “We used the buses on the last four days of our trip in August, and it was so much less stress. Mind you, we got lost several times driving ourselves around.”

Carissa offers some tips if you do take a bus,” Plan for the worst, and allow an hour to get to the park including waiting. Make the best of it, talk to the people you’re practically sitting on top of! For goodness sake, if you are able to stand, do it and offer the seats to people older than you, pregnant women, or moms who are struggling with a toddler. If you’re traveling with small children, put one on your lap and squish two tiny butts in one seat when it’s crowded. Be kind, be courteous, be patient. And bring a jacket – sometimes those buses are freezing!”

Randy agrees with Carissa, “You nailed it. I was raised to give up my seat to those older than me, women, and children. My boys continue that tradition. The bus transport for our family has always been a big plus for staying on grounds. You learn quickly that planning the extra time when headed to a park is a must just as important as taking your time after park close to let the crowds die down. We have met people from all over the world who share the love of Disney. An experience we would not have if we drove ourselves to the park.”

Items You Can NOT Bring to Disney Theme Parks: A Cheapskate Princess Guide

Disney World bus transportation tips

The wheels on the bus go ’round and ’round, all the Disney day, and because transportation costs are built-in to the cost of your vacation as an on-property guest, there are no additional costs for you.

Thanks for stopping by, and we’ll see you looking out a bus window, headed toward a theme park…

To see more of our Cheapskating Guides, use this link.

Amanda Major Cheapskate Princess

.

Disney’s Cheapskate Princess

.

Now let our vacation planner help you plan your trip, totally for FREE!

Earn $20 Rewards for Vacation Referrals!

Use this link for a free no obligation vacation quote from Mike Ellis, our Disney Vacation Planner with Pixie Vacations.

Call Mike at 919-606-6725 or e-mail him at mike@pixievacations.com.

Amanda Major CheapskatePrincess.comAmanda Major is the creator of cheapskateprincess.com. She remembers her first visit to Magic Kingdom like it was yesterday, because she had a ham sandwich tucked in her shorts pocket. The whole family snuck in their lunch; you can’t make that kinda stuff up. 40 years worth of trips to Orlando later, she is still trying to save money on vacations.

Amanda is a Disney Vacation Club Member and Annual Pass holder. Her amazing husband, band director Carl Major, plus three teen children and two dogs keep her busy. Amanda teaches Leadership to high school seniors in the almost-coastal town of Foley, Alabama. Read about her cheapskating local vacations with this link. When she’s not writing, she’s reading, walking somewhere, or paddling a kayak. Life is indeed a blast. 

We hope we can help save you some money too. Use this link for a free no obligation vacation quote from our Travel Consultant with Pixie Vacations, Mike Ellis. You can also e-mail him at mike@pixievacations.com.

Best Disney World Meals Under $20: Whispering Canyon Cafe Breakfast

Whispering Canyon Disney World

Updated for 2017!

Ask Disney World travelers what resort they long to stay in, and a great many will say Wilderness Lodge. This resort has one of the most beautiful lobbies I have ever seen in all my travels, especially at Christmas time with the massive tree and all the decorations. But if the Deluxe Resort price tag is holding you back, you can stop by for a fantastic table-service breakfast for under $20 a person.

Whispering Canyon Cafe surrounds you with log-cabin atmosphere, and serving you will be, in the company’s own words, “colorfully named Cast Members who have a reputation for sassing customers.” Whispering Canyon is a lively dining spot known for loud whoops and songs, and the food has a great reputation for being consistent and well worth the price. They offer Lincoln Logs, coloring pages, spirited singalongs and hobby-horse races to keep the kids entertained.

While you can also enjoy breakfast, lunch, or dinner at Whispering Canyon Cafe, we recommend breakfast because the prices are lower. So just what do you get for your money? Let’s take a look at the 2017 menu.

Whispering Canyon Cafe menu

Disney Whispering Canyon cafe All-You-Care-To-Enjoy Breakfast Skillet

Starters

Fresh Fruit with Honey-Ginger Yogurt and Granola  – $8.00

Blueberry Muffin – $4.00

Pecan Sticky Bun Skillet – $5.00

The famous All You Care to Enjoy Breakfast

This…is Whispering Canyons’s famous All You Care to Enjoy Breakfast

Entrées

All-You-Care-To-Enjoy Breakfast Skillet

scrambled eggs, western home fries, bacon, sausage, waffles, buttermilk biscuits, and sausage gravy – $18.00

Steel-cut Oatmeal

with fresh fruit, whole-wheat bagel, and Nutella serving  – $11.00

Eggs Benedict

two poached eggs, Canadian bacon, English muffin, and hollandaise sauce served with western home fries.  Add house-smoked pulled pork – $15.00

Farmer Mike’s Ham and Cheese Omelet

with western home fries and a biscuit – $14.00

Doc Willis’ Egg White Omelet

house-smoked turkey, spinach, tomatoes, and mild cheddar served with fresh fruit and a biscuit  – $14.00

Eggs-Any Style

with western home fries and your choice of bacon or sausage and a biscuit – $14.00

Disney Whispering Canyon Cafe chocolate chip pancakes

House-made Banana Bread French Toast 

with Bananas Foster Sauce served with your choice of bacon or sausage  – $14.00

Buttermilk Flapjacks

with bacon or sausage  – $13.00

Chad’s Chocolate Chip Buttermilk Flapjacks

with bacon or sausage  – $14.00

Belgian-style Waffle

with fresh berries and hand-shipped cream served with bacon or sausage – $13.00

Sides

Toast – White, Wheat, or Rye – $4.00

Sausage Links or Bacon – $5.00

Cold Cereal – $6.00

Chicken Apple-Raisin Sausage – $5.00

Stone Ground Cheese Grits – $5.00

Bagel with Cream Cheese – $5.00

Biscuits and Sausage Gravy – $5.00

 

Kids’ Mickey Check Meal 

Spinach and Tomato Omelet

served with fresh fruit, Goldfish honey-wheat toast and choice of small low-fat milk or small Dasani water. This meets Disney Nutrition Guidelines for complete meals without substitutions. Kids’ menu items are for children ages nine and younger. $8.00

Read – Disney’s Charmed in the Park Jewelry: A Cheapskate Princess Guide

Disney Whispering Canyon Cafe Mickey Waffles

Kids’ Meals

Keep in mind that kids’ menu items are for children ages nine and younger.

One Egg

served with bacon or sausage, breakfast potatoes, and a biscuit. Choice of small low-fat milk, small Dasani water, or small Minute Maid apple juice – $8.00

Mickey Waffles 

served with bacon or sausage link. Choice of small low-fat milk, small Dasani water, or small Minute Maid apple juice – $7.00 

House-made Banana Bread French Toast 

One slice of Banana Bread French Toast served with Bananas Foster Sauce and choice of bacon or sausage link. Choice of small low-fat milk, small Dasani water, or a small Minute Maid apple juice – $7.00 

Steel-cut Oatmeal 

topped with sun-dried cranberries and maple syrup served with fresh fruits. Includes choice of small low-fat milk, small Dasani water, or small Minute Maid apple juice – $6.99 

Fresh Fruit Cup 

topped with yogurt and granola, served with choice of small low-fat milk, small Dasani water, or small Minute Maid apple juice – $6.00 

Buttermilk Flapjacks 

with choice of bacon or sausage link and choice of small low-fat milk, small Dasani water, or small Minute Maid apple juice – $7.00 

All-You-Care-To-Enjoy Breakfast Skillet 

served with choice of small low-fat milk, small Dasani water, or small Minute Maid apple juice – $10.00
Disney Whispering Canyon Cafe All-You-Care-To-Enjoy

Non-Alcoholic Beverages

Smoothies

Made with nonfat yogurt and your choice of Mega-Berry or our flavor of the day – $5.50

Shakes

Chocolate, Vanilla, or Strawberry All-You-Care-To-Enjoy – $8.50

Assorted Juices

Minute Maid orange, cranberry, grapefruit, apple, tomato, or vegetable juice – no price provided

Odwalla Berries GoMega – no price provided

Freshly Brewed Joffrey’s Coffee – no price provided

French Press Pot Estate Grown Organic Colombia Blend (Serves Two) $8.00

Alcoholic Beverages

Bloody Mary

Skyy Vodka and Bloody Mary Mix – $7.75

Mimosa

Champagne and Orange Juice – $9.50
Disney Whispering Canyon Cafe pancakes and sausage
Disney Whispering Canyon Cafe big breakfast
The famous All You Care to Enjoy Breakfast is known as an especially good deal for your money at $16.99 for adults and $8.99 for children age 10 and under.
 
At times, Whispering Canyon Cafe can be pretty noisy, so this wouldn’t be my recommendation for a romantic meal. But it’s a great dining location for those with large, noisy families or small children who might raise a fuss. No one will notice your noise with everything going on around you.
Cheapskate Princess Christmas
Whispering Canyon Cafe meal prices
Right beside the restaurant is the fabulous Wilderness Lodge lobby, which is decorated with this amazing Christmas tree 20% of the year. The lobby is amazing on its own, but with the tree?! Absolutely stunning…
Wilderness Lodge Christmas tree
 Wilderness Lodge Christmas

Wilderness Lodge indoor lobby stream

And while trying not to give away too many secrets, if you want some fun, ask for more Catsup!

Disney World Whispering Canyon Cafe ask for katsup

Be sure to make your ADRs (Advanced Dining Reservation) as soon as you know you are traveling to Disney World, because time slots fill up way in advance. Advance reservations can be made up to 180 days prior to your visit. And guessing by the latest rumors, you will need that ADR to drive onto property without paying a parking fee.

In my opinion, Whispering Canyon Cafe offers the best breakfast our family has eaten on property.

Remember that menu items and prices can change without notice. Use this link to make certain the item you want is still on the official menu.

Read – Ferrytale Wishes Fireworks Dessert Cruise: A Cheapskate Princess Guide

Thanks for stopping by, and we’ll see you in Whispering Canyon Cafe, working your way through a stack of chocolate chip pancakes.

 

To see more of our Cheapskating Guides, use this link.

Amanda Major Cheapskate Princess

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Disney’s Cheapskate Princess

.

Now let our vacation planner help you plan your trip, totally for FREE!

Earn $20 Rewards for Vacation Referrals!

Use this link for a free no obligation vacation quote from Mike Ellis, our Disney Vacation Planner with Pixie Vacations.

Call Mike at 919-606-6725 or e-mail him at mike@pixievacations.com.

Amanda Major CheapskatePrincess.comAmanda Major is the creator of cheapskateprincess.com. She remembers her first visit to Magic Kingdom like it was yesterday, because she had a ham sandwich tucked in her shorts pocket. The whole family snuck in their lunch; you can’t make that kinda stuff up. 40 years worth of trips to Orlando later, she is still trying to save money on vacations.

Amanda is a Disney Vacation Club Member and Annual Pass holder. Her amazing husband, band director Carl Major, plus three teen children and two dogs keep her busy. Amanda teaches Leadership to high school seniors in the almost-coastal town of Foley, Alabama. Read about her cheapskating local vacations with this link. When she’s not writing, she’s reading, walking somewhere, or paddling a kayak. Life is indeed a blast. 

We hope we can help save you some money too. Use this link for a free no obligation vacation quote from our Travel Consultant with Pixie Vacations, Mike Ellis. You can also e-mail him at mike@pixievacations.com.

Christmas Holidays at the Disney World Resorts…Where to Find the FREE Stuff!

While the Christmas holidays are the busiest time to visit Disney World, this time of year, with music, entertainment and fantastic decorations, is also the most beautiful. You don’t need park tickets to enjoy resort hopping and free fun. So where should you go and what should you do for free?

General Resorts

Holiday Performances – Choirs, from elementary and middle school through retirement ages, are frequent presences in the resort lobbies singing holiday tunes.  Stop and sing along with a few songs.

Christmas entertainment Disney World resorts

Treats on Christmas Day – For the past several years on Christmas day, Deluxe and Moderate Resorts offered Snickerdoodle cookies and lemonade in the lobby. These were the same kind of cookies given out at Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Parties, and let me tell you, they were yummy. Looking for a Christmas day activity in Orlando without standing in line up to your elbows with thousands of people? Resort hop, and be sure to stop in the lobby.

free Christmas snacks at Disney World

Smores – Many of the resorts now have fire pits where they had out free marshmallows and fire sticks. Even in the summer whine’s hot, my sons thought this was pretty fun, so it’s got to be even better in cold weather. Check with your resort to see if there is a fire and ask about start time.

making marshmallows at Disney World Resort

Free Snack Samples – Many resorts are now offering cupcakes and assorted sugary goodies in their gift shops, kept in refrigerated cases for freshness. Check the top of the snack case for occasional free samples like cookies and fudge.

Window Shopping – There may be no better time to “window shop” at the resorts than Christmas. The decorations are amazing and the music is magical. It will be very hard to keep that Visa in your pocket though, so stay strong. Once you see some of the prices on ornaments, you may have reason to fight the urge to spend.

Christmas shopping at Disney resorts

Beach & Yacht Club Resorts

Beach & Yacht Club Villas –  You can see the “Holiday Village” in the resort lobby, which was created by Cast Members, there’s a miniature train that makes its way through a quaint village over to a sugar rock mountain.

The Edible Carousel – It’s pretty amazing to see the life-size, edible spinning Holiday Carousel, and 2014 will mark 15 years the carousel has been created. Be on the lookout for magical surprises and hidden Mickey’s hiding in the carousel’s décor.

Boardwalk Resort

The Holiday Gazebo  – Gaze up at this merry gazebo in the lobby at Disney’s Boardwalk Resort and examine a scene made entirely out of gingerbread and chocolate. Don’t forget to keep your eyes peeled for Hidden Mickeys just waiting to be discovered.

Stitch’s Bakery Store Front  – Explore a Stitch-sized replica of the Boardwalk Bakery’s store front in the lobby. See if you can spy Lilo as Cast Members create gingerbread houses right in front of you.

The Stitch Display contains:

  • 50 pounds of Icing
  • 400 gum paste and sugar flowers
  • 300 pounds of chocolate
  • Over 2000 gingerbread pieces
  • 15 hidden Mickeys

While you are at this resort, you really need to take your group to get one of these desserts. It’s a true experience!

Contemporary Resort

Gingerbread Holiday Tree  – On the Grand Canyon Concourse, there is a a gigantic gingerbread holiday tree decorated with ornaments, candy canes and presents. Up until 2013, this tree was themed with Mary Blair’s Small World figures, but in 2014, Disney has (totally rammed Frozen down our throats) created a Frozen-themed tree for the Contemporary. Disney Characters have been known to pose here for photos, and if they are no where to be seen while you are there, you can snap your own photo in front of a holiday background near the tree.

The 2014 tree was inspired by Mary Blair’s “small world” figures and Disney’s animated movie”Frozen” and created by the Contemporary Resort Bakery Team. Thanks to WDW Shutterbug for the stats and photo.

  • 311 lbs. honey
  • 514 lbs. flour
  • 212 eggs
  • 67 lbs. spices
  • 35 lbs. sugar syrup
  • 222 lbs. icing
  • 433 lbs. chocolate
  • 1500 gingerbread shingles
  • and 14 hidden Olafs

See the Christmas Tree – Outside the resort, don’t miss the 70-foot-tall Christmas tree at the resort’s main lobby entrance, featuring nearly 36,000 white LED lights. Take a stroll outside; kids love to stand beside this tree in amazement of the truly immense size, and you’ll be impressed by the size as well.

Mickey Wreath – One of my very favorite Disney Christmas decorations has to be the Mickey Mouse wreath at the Contemporary. This wreath is four stories tall, measuring 25 feet in diameter and has 18 feet elliptical mouse ears. As you approach the Contemporary in the monorail from the Magic Kingdom, it lights up the night.

Gingerbread Pin Signings – By  the gingerbread tree in years past, visitors have been offered opportunities to meet the Disney chefs behind some of Walt Disney World’s best holiday gingerbread creations. For 2013, the chefs were signing Gingerbread Trading Pins. Pastry chef Jeff Barnes was at the Contemporary Resort in 2013 on November 15th from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. I suggest you call the resort to see if any signings will take place this year. With the new Frozen theme, I would highly suspect there will be Frozen gingerbread-themed pins available.

Grand Floridian Resort and Spa

Gingerbread House – In what may be the most famous of any Christmas decoration on WDW property, there is a life-size gingerbread house built in the Grand lobby during the holidays. 2014 is the 16th anniversary of the gingerbread house, which is 16 feet high and 17 feet wide, taking six men almost 10 days to create.

Grand-Floridian-Christmas-Gingerbread-House-

What sort of ingredients are used to make this fabulous  once-a-year holiday creation?

  • 1050 of honey

  • 140 pints of egg whites

  • 700 pounds of chocolate

  • 800 pounds of flour

  • 35 pounds of spices

The Tree! – Decorated with a Victorian theme, you have got to see the bird cages, intertwined swans, and lots of amazing golden-colored ornaments adorning this humongous Christmas tree. Assembled in just one night while guests sleep, the tree is four stories tall (40 feet) and sparkles with 45,000 lights.

Meet Holiday Minnie & Mickey – Mickey and Minnie Mouse, dressed in their Christmas finest, arrive to take photos in front of the grand Christmas tree. Lines are not that long, so bring your camera and ask a Cast Member to snap a shot of the whole family.  This would make a fabulous Christmas card photo.

free picture of Minnie and Mickey at Disney World

Hear Some Tunes – Beginning mid-afternoon, you will hear live music as soon as you walk into the lobby. Starting around 3 p.m., a pianist starts playing and alternates with an equally talented orchestra until almost 10 p.m. There is no better place in all of WDW to hear live musicians performing mostly Disney themed tunes, all for free. The orchestra is called the “Grand Floridian Society Orchestra.”

Free music at the Grand Floridian Resort

If you take a walk around toward the Polynesian Village, the beach area here is lovely. Take a seat or a swing and enjoy the surroundings.

Disney World Polynesian Village beach

Wilderness Lodge

Enjoy the Christmas Tree –  When the holiday season rolls around, a massive Christmas tree is erected in the center of the lobby. PhotoPass photographers are available to snap your picture, or you can just take your own photo.

Meet Holiday Minnie & Mickey – Dressed in their Christmas finest, our favorite Disney couple arrives to take photos by the “indoor stream.” Lines are not that long, so bring your camera and ask a Cast Member to snap a shot of the whole family.

Wilderness Lodge Christmas tree

Disney World Wilderness Lodge Christmas decorations

Wilderness Lodge indoor lobby stream

As a FREE bonus, we have some bonus information on what to do at Downtown Disney, because entertainment is free there as well.

Bonus- Disney Springs

Enjoy Some Live Music – With restaurants like House of Blues, Paradiso 37, Raglan Road, there is no shortage of Downtown Disney music floating over the crowds. Even the new bowling alley, called Splittsville Luxury Lanes, frequently has outdoor musicians.

street performers at Disney SpringsJPG

Festival of the Seasons  – Enjoy Downtown Disney holiday entertainment (November 15 – December 29 for 2013) plus holiday sights and sounds.  Live Christmas entertainment includes carolers, Latin, jazz and pop performances of cherished holiday songs, costumed stilt walkers, street performers, and a lively holiday dance party with deejay.

Festival of the Seasons  – (November 14 – December 29 for 2014) Speaking of free live shows, Disney has performers walking around showing off everything from acrobatics and magic to theater. Live mini-concerts pop up in various places throughout the Downtown Disney area. Our family has watched Christmas Soldiers on stilts dance above our heads, had our photos taken with mime-type performers, and listened to some of the best singers and guitar players we’ve ever heard perform live. Often there are street performers like jugglers, comedians, fire-eaters, and jazz ensembles in the evenings. Find a spot with a good view and enjoy the show.

Disney Springs Festival of the Season Christmas

Stop the family for a photo.

Disney Springs

Lego Store – Stop by and play with Legos, or take your picture with many of the huge Lego decorations.

Downtown Disney Springs Lego store free activities

There are some lovely sunsets at Disney Springs, which are always free.

Downtown Disney Springs lake sunset

Visit with Santa – During the Downtown Disney Festival of the Seasons, you can visit with Santa and have your picture taken. Santa’s cottage is typically located in-between The World of Disney Store and Arribas Brothers and Basin.

Disney Springs free Santa Photos

After Santa heads back to the North Pole, then Goofy takes over for photos. Times may vary, so stop by what was formerly Santa’s Chalet to see when Goofy will be available.

Goofy's chalet at Disney Springs

See a Show– Look for an outdoor stage across from The World of Disney store. There is a large amount of seating, which is more comfortable in winter because you will be seated in direct sun light. This can be a great place to rest weary feet. This stage is used as a performance area for middle through high school and college bands playing everything from jazz and pop to holiday tunes. You’ll see ballet dancers, dance teams, and hear choirs singing and dancing their way through every genre of music imaginable. Disney has very high standards for acceptance as guest performers, so sit back and enjoy the free show.

 

Christmas is one of the busiest times at Walt Disney World, but it is stunningly beautiful. When we can get to Orlando during the holidays, my family spends a lot of time wandering the resorts and gift shops, away from the huge crowds and long waits at the theme parks. Roller coaster rides are great, but taking in the holiday sights and sounds is equally as memorable.

Cjristmas decorations at Disney World

plan a Christmas Disney vacation

Christmas Mickey Mouse

Thanks for stopping by, and we’ll see you on the monorail, traveling toward gift shops filled with Christmas merchandise…

 

To see more of our Cheapskating Guides, use this link.

Amanda Major Cheapskate Princess

.

Disney’s Cheapskate Princess

.

Now let our vacation planner help you plan your trip, totally for FREE!

Earn $20 Rewards for Vacation Referrals!

Use this link for a free no obligation vacation quote from Mike Ellis, our Disney Vacation Planner with Pixie Vacations.

Call Mike at 919-606-6725 or e-mail him at mike@pixievacations.com.

Amanda Major CheapskatePrincess.comAmanda Major is the creator of cheapskateprincess.com. She remembers her first visit to Magic Kingdom like it was yesterday, because she had a ham sandwich tucked in her shorts pocket. The whole family snuck in their lunch; you can’t make that kinda stuff up. 40 years worth of trips to Orlando later, she is still trying to save money on vacations.

Amanda is a Disney Vacation Club Member and Annual Pass holder. Her amazing husband, band director Carl Major, plus three teen children and two dogs keep her busy. Amanda teaches Leadership to high school seniors in the almost-coastal town of Foley, Alabama. Read about her cheapskating local vacations with this link. When she’s not writing, she’s reading, walking somewhere, or paddling a kayak. Life is indeed a blast. 

We hope we can help save you some money too. Use this link for a free no obligation vacation quote from our Travel Consultant with Pixie Vacations, Mike Ellis. You can also e-mail him at mike@pixievacations.com.